The Contingent Fee
The heirs of A. T. Stewart, one of the wealthiest Americans in the last century, wanted to bring a suit against Judge Hilton for his way of handling the estate. They went to William M. Evarts, one of the most distinguished lawyers of his day who later served in the Senate and as secretary of state, and asked him to manage their case."Well, I will take a contingent fee.” “And what is a contingent fee?” asked one of the heirs. “My dear sir,” Evarts replied mellifluously, “I will tell you what a contingent fee to a lawyer means. If I don’t win your suit, I get nothing. If I do win it, you get nothing. (Encyclopedia of Illustrations #5176).